by Maddox Drew, with contributing edits by Storm Miles and Isra Naseem

So what does it mean to be gay today? Gay means more than just homosexuality in 2018.

In a world where the acronym “LGBTQIA+” just seems to be getting longer, it only seems to be confusing more and more people. Luckily, we are here to help clarify and discuss some of the many labels, underneath this umbrella of “gay”.

Let’s start off the basics of the acronym that most people are familiar with. This refers to the “LGBT” section. It all begins with the “L”, which stands for lesbian. Someone who is a lesbian, is a woman who is attracted to other women. Most lesbians are comfortable with the label of being “gay”. The next letter of this acronym is “G” which stands for gay. This refers to men who are also attracted to other men. Most of the time people that identify as “homosexual” just use the label “gay” instead. In between the middle all this is “B” which stands for bisexual. Bisexual people feel attraction towards both genders (male and female). The last letter is “T” which stands for transgender. To be transgender means that the person identifies with a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. For example, a person that was assigned female at birth, but is actually male-identifying, is a transgender male.

Now that the most familiar identifies are out of the way, let us look at the other half. “Q” stands for queer. People that refer to themselves as queer are people who do not identify as heterosexual but may not be comfortable with using a specific label. Furthermore, people that are ‘genderqueer’ may subscribe to conventional gender identifies (typically the binary genders of male and female). “I” refers to people that are intersex. A person that is intersex is someone who has been born with any several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals that do not fit into the conventional definition of male and female bodies. And last but not least is “A” which stands for asexual. Someone who is asexual is person that does not have any sexual feelings or desires for another person. So that’s it right? Nope. There’s that cheeky little “+” sign. What more could there be?

This plus allows us to include everyone who identifies outside of heterosexual or someone who is not cisgender (does not identify as the gender/sex they were born with). LGBTTQQIAAP is one of the longer acronyms that is used to cover more than the more well known identities. Thus there are four new letters “T”, “Q” and “P” and the first three – which allow transexual, questioning and pansexual people to be included. The second “A” standing for an ally of the community and not someone that positively identifies. Transexual is generally accepted as the same as transgender, however, people that identify as transgender do so to differentiate between sex and gender. The second “Q” stands for questioning, this is done so that both queer and questioning can be included, as well as including those that identify within the label that feel that they still might want to experiment within their ‘gayness’ so to speak. And finally, the “P” stands for pansexual, this refers to people who are attracted to others regardless of their sex or gender identity.

So what does it mean to be gay today? Well, clearly it means a lot of things. It is up to us as people to learn about all the differences between us, especially some of the core parts of our identify. Many people are ignorant to this new idea of multiple sexualities and genders, but educating ourselves and ensuring that others learn too will help create an open and diverse environment where everyone feels welcome and included.

Header image by missbutterfly on Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Published on The Collegian’s launch day

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Maddox Drew

Student Writer - Upham House Prefect


  1. This article is well timed, it is IDAHOTB day on the 17th May

  2. Is it possible to join a lgbt club at this point in the year? If so is there someone i could contact about it

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